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"Keeping Watch" Is Ministry in Action

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Daniel Whyte III

Daniel Whyte III

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Another chaplaincy concept modeled for us in Scripture is what Jesus asked for and needed from others during his darkest moments in the Garden of Gethsemane. Twice, what Jesus needed and what he asked — practically begged — his disciples for was that they "stay" and "keep watch." No "doing for" would help him in that hour. Not even his closest friends, Peter, James, and John could do anything for him — except to stay and keep watch. Keeping watch involves active emotional and spiritual presence in addition to physical presence. There is a tendency to discount the ministry of being with someone as not constituting "real" ministry. If it is considered ministry, then it is often seen as less important than "doing for" them or "witnessing to" them. This appears to be especially true in the Western culture that values doing over being. In ministering to others who are in crisis, the one ministering will often lament, "I didn't know what to say or do. All I could do was sit there and pray (silently)." 

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